My plan today was to be pushing off by 9am. I had seen what the waters are like on North Tea Lake and knew that our journey would be lengthened by the fact that we were going against the current. The waters are typically calm in the morning and get wavy as the day progresses. It took us just under 4 hours to get here and we wanted our trip back to be less than that so we could get home in decent time.
I woke up briefly at 6am and didn’t hear a sound: So far so good. The lake was still. We got up shortly after but already then the waves were starting to lap the shore. Nevertheless we continued with our plan and were packed up in short order and pushed off by 9:15am. Pretty good by our standards!
We had the wind against us the entire time we were paddling out of North Tea Lake and the waves were a decent size. With a determined attitude though, we still made good time. Odin didn’t move around near as much the entire trip home – likely due to his lack of space. Other than his weight, he was absolutely no problem. Actually I believe his weight helped. Our canoe cut through the waves instead of riding on top of them which helped our time and efforts.
We quickly tackled the first portage. I looked at my watch for the first time after our first trip across this portage. It was 11am. 1.5 hours of steady paddling. We stopped at the other side of the second portage for a snack break and watched some rapids while we had a snack. We were happy with our timing so far and now were entering the winding river.
Happy day! The rain that we accumulated all week rose the water levels significantly. We were no longer paddling through a river of weeds and we even sailed across the beaver dam without having to get out! Regardless of this much easier winding river trip, by the time we reached the mouth of Round Lake, I was more than ready for a break. I’m guessing it was around 1pm when we were through there, but that is only a guess as I didn’t stop to check my watch.
As soon as we entered Round Lake, I knew we were in trouble. Just the effort to turn the canoe in the right direction was a task. As best as I could, without letting the children know I was exhausted, I begged Trev to let us stop at an outfitters on the way so we could rest a bit. He was just as tired as I was but wanted to press on as he feared that if we stopped, it would be next to impossible to get back up to speed for the rest of the journey.
The swells were significant. We were bobbing up and down and I had to lean back during the larger waves while Trev angled the canoe to take in as little water as possible. Water came over the front of the canoe and along the gunnels during these big swells. We kept paddling on. We made a game of it again for the kids so they wouldn’t think about how wet they were getting. By the end though, they knew we were tired and just focusing on getting out. Apparently Round Lake is very shallow and always a tough lake to paddle across no matter the weather.
It felt like FOREVER before we made it across and Trev and I were absolutely done in. We made it through though. It was 2:45pm when I looked at my watch again. This was after we had unloaded the canoe. I feel like it took much longer but I guess we still made decent time considering our conditions. There was about 2 inches of water in the bottom of the canoe, not including the absolutely drenched fleece blanket that Odin was laying on.
Naturally, everyone was starving when we got out. There was no food at the Outfitters, as it was a Sunday of the long weekend so we drove out in search of an all day breakfast. What we found was a chip truck. The kids each had a pogo, Trev had a burger and I had an ENORMOUS box of fries. I’m sure I had something else but it’s lost on me at the moment. For dinner later on, we stopped at Scoopz in Washago and had some good ol’ Kawartha Dairy ice cream, which I recommend to anyone. What a great, friendly shop!
We got home at 10:15 pm after an uneventful drive home, stopping for a couple of washroom breaks and at a Swift Canoe shop to dream.
I’d likely not recommend this trip to others with young kids due to the lack of breaks available to actually get onto North Tea. Round Lake and the river can each take about an hour, depending on the conditions. We did see several young families on our way out but in talking to them, they travelled only to the closest sites on North Tea and only stayed for two nights. That seems like a lot of work for only one full day of camping but maybe it’s not so bad with less children and more help 🙂 Personally though, I am very grateful we started out years ago at Rock Lake and Penn Lake. They are much more forgiving when you need to work around naps and grumpy children.
As much as today was beyond exhausting, we would do the trip again in a heartbeat. What can compare to all that we have experienced this week? We are counting down the days until next year!